This Friday morning is one of those special days for the Holy Father and all the members of the Society of Jesus as the Universal Church celebrates the feast of society’s spiritual father, Saint Ignatius.
One of the most popular prayers attributed by this powerhouse Spaniard is the Prayer of Generosity. I thought it would be nice to reflect on this popular prayer, yet I felt the Spirit of God leading me in another direction as I picked up an old pick I read a few summers ago. In this gem of a book, Strengthen Your Brothers, Archbishop Sartain (currently the Archbishop of Seattle, Washington) reflects on this unusual prayer:
I’m asking You God, to give me what You have left.
Give me those things that others never ask of You.
I don’t ask You for rest, or tranquillity.
Not that of the spirit, the body, or the mind.
I don’t ask You for wealth, or success, or even health.
All those things are asked of You so much Lord,
that you can’t have any left to give.
Give me instead Lord what You have left.
Give me what others don’t want.
I want uncertainty and doubt.
I want torment and battle.
And I ask that You give them to me now and forever Lord,
so I can be sure to always have them,
because I won’t always have the strength to ask again.
But give me also the courage, the energy,
and the spirit to face them.
I ask You these things Lord, because I can’t ask them of myself.
I often feel that my prayer is a mirror of main stream prayers: for good health, protection from calamities and evil, success, etc … Yet, this prayer leads in a whole different direction as if to ask for God to only have the leftovers of life. Sartain hit the nail on the head that often times we want to be behind the mother of the sons of Zebedee in Matthew 20:20-28 who desire the places of honor and security in God’s Kingdom.
Yet, the key is not to limit ourselves to those things. We cannot assume our growth to be limited in one from. Often our strife and our challenges, our discomforts form us to serving God at our best. When we pray for these things, they root out of us all the romances of the spiritual life and teach us to be generous in the spirit of Saint Ignatius.
Teaching us to be generous is often found behind those little crosses the Lord himself invites us to carry.